Community Organizations, Labor and allies join to resist the continued criminalization of immigrants
BOSTON — Two days after our Nation of Immigrants celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Senator Ed Markey joined members of labor and non-profit organizations by the Irish Famine Memorial in downtown Boston to remind federal lawmakers and the Trump administration of the immigrant tradition that has made America great for over 200 years.
“The Trump administration’s immigration policies are unfair, un-Constitutional, and un-American,” Senator Markey said. “Instead of immoral and punitive proposals like the Muslim ban, border wall, and a deportation force, we should focus on what matters most to our immigrant communities – good jobs, quality education and safe neighborhoods. I will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform and to ensure that the American Dream is achievable for all.”
Senator Markey appeared with members of 32BJ SEIU, Jobs with Justice, the Irish International Immigrant Center ( IIIC), and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) to demand an end to the mass deportation strategy of the Trump administration and support Francisco Rodriguez, an MIT janitor who is at risk of being deported despite being the father of US citizens. Just as the Declaration affirmed the equality of all people, so the rally affirmed America’s traditions of fairness and decency and denounce the attempts to divide us by demonizing certain newcomers.
“Two days ago we celebrated the birthday of this great nation, a country where immigrants have made the American Dream possible,” said Roxana Rivera, 32BJ SEIU Vice-President. “Now the very idea of America as a country where immigrants can thrive is under attack. In a few short months, the Trump administration has assaulted to the very core the tradition we celebrate every July 4.”
“We are here not only to denounce this assault, but to fight it,” Rivera continued. “We are here to ask you to support pro-immigrant elected officials, and to call immigrations and customs enforcement for good people like our member Francisco Rodriguez.”
In exactly one week, this MIT Janitor and father of two U.S. citizen children is set to report to immigration officials with travel documents in hand, despite having received a stay of deportation every year since 2011. Rodriguez came to the U.S. fleeing death threats in his native El Salvador, and the community has rallied in his support in a petition signed by over 1,000 faculty and students at MIT.
“We must all stand up for immigrants like Francisco,” said Lily Huang, organizer for the Jobs With Justice. “We cannot remain quiet in the face of this cruel attempt to further criminalize those who live among us as parents, as coworkers and neighbors. And we cannot allow the continued passage of anti-immigrant laws to push immigrants further into the shadows.”
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills that would cause immense division and suffering if they were enacted. The anti-Sanctuary bill H.R. 3003 would cut some federal funding to cities that better safeguard public safety by maintaining the constitutional distinction between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement. Kate’s Law, H.R. 3004, would expand federal prison populations by creating harsh mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for certain convictions relating to immigration, such as a five-year minimum sentences for failing to appear in court.
“”We oppose the draconian laws, the harsh enforcement tactics, and the implementation of the senseless and divisive ban against refugees and travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries,” said Ronnie Millar, Executive Director of the Irish International Immigrant Center. “We have seen the fear sown in the immigrant community first-hand, and we are outraged at the current anti-immigrant onslaught.
“The Irish were refugees in the 1800s, fleeing starvation and death, and had to overcome serious, anti-immigrant opposition,” Millar continued. “Today, we are determined not to pull up the ropes, but to stand in solidarity in this fight, determined to work together to create a more welcoming and fair society.”
“Now more than ever, we need to stand together to defend our values and protect the most vulnerable among us,” echoed Eva A. Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). “Massachusetts is home to more than 1 million immigrants. They are our friends, co-workers and neighbors, and we will not stand quietly as they are demonized and scapegoated.”
“32BJ SEIU is right to remind us we are a land of immigrants,” said Congressman Michael Capuano in a written statement. “We are living in an ugly time. There are those who still believe people born in foreign countries cannot possibly be real Americans. I know better —everyone here today knows better. We are a nation that believes in equality, opportunity, and that no one should be unfairly judged simply because they were not born here. We must remain a nation of laws, of freedom, hope, and opportunity, and I am proud to work with the 32BJ SEIU to keep us true to ourselves.”
With 163,000 affiliates in 11 states, including 18,000 in Massachusetts, 32BJ SEIU is the largest building service workers union in the country.